The world puts unnecessary pressure on looks – especially for fitness enthusiasts across the globe. Whether you are an athlete, dancer, fitness competitor, fitness professional, aerobics instructor, crossfit gamer, gym member or life-long dieter, you may not see yourself as others see you. You may look in the mirror and see Fat, Thick and Out of Shape, while others see you as Fit, Trim and Healthy. In today’s blog I get super personal and tackle a sensitive topic of an unhealthy body image and Body Dysmorphia.
When I was in the doctor office earlier this week, I was talking to my girlfriend (Dr. Jennifer Stepanek) about my struggle with not being able to workout right after my vacation. Like I said in my last blog, there’s nothing like being off your diet and workout program, and then getting hurt and you can’t exercise. I confessed that I felt so fat. I honestly think I told her that because she was about to hold onto my body and manipulate my back, and the last time I saw her it was close to my competition and I was super lean. I honestly know that the last time I saw her I was too lean. Meaning, it wasn’t healthy lean – it was pre-competition lean, but it didn’t change the way I felt.
Her compassionate and concerning response was “you know that’s not right? That’s really a sign of body dysmorphia”. I was taken back a little. She followed with explaining how she dealt with that as a dancer, and watched many girls put excessive pressure on themselves for how they looked and what they weighed. She continued to encourage me and I continued to confess that this was an area I’m working on as I try to find balance in the crazy fitness world.
As a fitness professional, I probably have unreasonable expectations I put on myself to look, and live, the part. Steve warned me about this as I prepared to compete this year. He encouraged me to allow myself to gain some weight back and not freak out. I also now understand why we whines about feeling fat even after one big meal. There is something that happens to people who compete, or get really lean (like for modeling jobs, performances, competitions, TV, etc), that raises the bar too high – and it messes with your head.
While someone else’s “best” is closer to a normal healthier weight, my perceived “best” is not a healthy weight. That is why, when I weighed in on the inBody machine (our comprehensive body composition machine) close to competition, it said I needed to gain 11.7lbs of fat. I look at that and think that’s ridiculous, that’s a LOT of fat! But, that is what is considered a normal healthy weight for my age, my height and my muscle mass.
OK, so back to the day of that doctor’s visit. Later that day, Steve took this picture of me holding an Atkins frozen dinner for a campaign I’m working on. He snapped a few pics and I ate my meal and didn’t post the pic until later, after Steve left. I hadn’t even looked at the photos yet, but when I did, I was surprised. I looked thin. Not super-fit thin, or really lean or anything (remember, I have been off my diet for a bit), but I didn’t look as fat as I felt (and I REALLY had been feeling super fat). Please bear with me here. You maybe thinking this is ridiculous, or that I’m crazy, and I’m writing this to say “yes, it IS ridiculous and yes, I AM crazy”. lol That’s why I’m sharing this with you. Maybe someone else will benefit from my own struggle and discovery.
As I looked at that picture and reflected on what my friend said, I thought about the seriousness of not having a true concept of what I really look like. I waited until Steve came home and said “can I ask you a question?” Of course he said “yes” and I proceeded with opening my phone to that picture and asking “do I look like this?” He laughed (not understanding) and I explained “do I look heavier in person than I do in these pictures, because I feel like the pictures makes me look thinner than I actually am”. He responded with “no, you look much fatter in person” and then laughed (totally teasing me). He of course said that was what I looked like. That I was thin. That just baffled me!
I explained that I thought maybe I was dealing with body image issues. He said “duh, yes, you most definitely are dealing with dysmorphic issues. Most competitors do”. Hmmmm I thought. Dang it. I don’t want to be like ‘most people’. Ha! So I decided to do some research to learn more about this disorder.
I found an online test and took the test to see where I stood. I actually thought the results would show traces of BDD (Body Dysmorphia Disorder) – and was expecting the results to basically say “yes, you have some of the symptoms, but it’s just a mild case”(and I was even conservative with my answers!! haha – but instead, the results screamed ‘you gotta get this under control girlfriend!”. lol
CLICK HERE to view the questions or take the test (the answers will be emailed to you).
Spoiler Alert – you can skip the test and just use me as the guinea pig! lol Here is the “answer key”
* 1 to 3 test items checked: There is a low probability that you have BDD.
* 4 to 7 test items checked: There is a medium probability that you have BDD.
* More than 7 test items checked: There is a high probability that you have BDD. I checked 14 freakin’ lines! FOURTEEN! OMG! Ok, so I’m going to be so super honest here and share my thoughts on each symptom. Lord, I hope this helps someone because this is sorta embarrassing.
Getting Personal: My BDD Test Revealed
Test questions are in light grey, and my answer and thoughts follow.
- I excessively worry about my physical appearance. YES. I didn’t think I did until I reeeeally thought about this hard. I ended up checking yes because, realistically, I do know I stress about how I look more than I should.
- I often check my appearance in mirrors or other reflecting objects (i.e., windows, car bumpers, spoons, etc). YES. I don’t typically have long gazes in the mirror or window as I walk by, and rarely do it if anyone is watching, but if no one is around – yes, I totally do. I just have the prudence (or pride) to hide it well because I see others do it in public at the gym and realize it looks self-centered and is unattractive.
- I frequently avoid mirrors and other reflecting objects. I checked NO. Ironically, I used to always be in the back of an aerobic class because I didn’t like to see myself in the mirror. I used to tease that I hated seeing my long limbs flying around and how awkward I looked. But other than that, I want to look in the mirror so I have a chance to improve a flaw (like messy hair, shiny nose, etc).
- I excessively perform basic grooming activities (i.e., washing skin, combing hair, brushing teeth) related to my perceived flaw. I said NO to this one. I don’t have any excessive grooming rituals. I mean, I do have a skin regimen I have to do or I’ll be one big walking zit, but I don’t think I desire to wash my face 15 times or brush my hair 100 strokes. I do have to wash my face really good to get all the pounds of make-up off it since I use so much make-up to cover my yucky skin from my teenage acne years. Who am I kidding?! I never stopped having acne! ha!
- I often use make-up or clothing (i.e., hats, scarves, long sleeve shirts, long pants, etc.) to camouflage my perceived flaw. A reluctant YES. I never leave the house without make-up. I’m a little better now. I sometimes do run without it, but most of the time I have SOMETHING on my face (foundation to smooth out my freckly uneven complexion). I also definitely change the way I dress depending on how fat or fit I feel. I think this is normal to some degree, but I definitely need to consider this as an issue I need to work on.
- I frequently attempt to hide my perceived flaw by using my hands, by sitting in certain positions, or by staying in places where I believe the flaw will be less noticeable by others (i.e., a dark corner in a theatre or restaurant). Another reluctant YES. No, I don’t hide in a dark corner when going out, but I do tend to try and hold myself in certain positions (especially on the beach or in tight fitting clothes) so fat rolls don’t show, etc. Again, probably somewhat normal, but borderline obsessive. I have been known to wear my hair a certain way to hide a blemish and I can’t just stand normal in a photo without wondering if I’m in a “fat position”. LIke anyone cares what I look like in the dang picture! lol
- I regularly scrutinize others’ appearance for comparison. NO. I might admire someone else, but I don’t scrutinize others. I’m too worried about my own flaws. lol
- I sometimes discuss my perceived flaw with others, or ask others to verify my perceived flaw. Well, I can’t say that I would have answered YES to this before, but after my talk with the doctor and Steve today, I couldn’t answer no. ha!
- I often seek reassurance from others about the appearance of my perceived flaw. I had to check YES on this one too. Although I don’t feel I seek reassurance from others, I do seek it from Steve. I may complain about being fat, but it’s not to hear “you aren’t fat” – it’s more of an admission or confession. As if I feel the other person is already thinking it, so I might as well say it. However, with Steve, I do seek his reassurance because he’s really the only one I care about.
- I often touch, pick, and/or measure my perceived flaw. OK, this is getting personal here but I am SUCH a picker!! I admit it! All the dermatologists and aestheticians in the world will hate this but I touch and pick at my skin a lot. I can’t STAND having a blemish. I want it OUT and fixed – and I’m no different with any flaw. I don’t have a lot of patience with flaws. If I notice a new flaw, I want to fix it right away, even if I have to cut it out, cut it off, dye it, exercise it off, glue it, paint it, cover it, medicate it – whatever the fix is, I almost can’t even work or do anything until I first deal with it. So YES was the answer to this one. I always thought that was my perfectionist side, but I now realize it’s more than that and I need to work on this more. I also weigh myself daily to “measure” how I am really doing with my weight/body.
- I diet and/or eat only specific foods related to my perceived flaw. YES. One of my percieved flaws is body fat. So, yes, I do diet and eat specific foods that would help that area. This would be OK if this was the only line I checked YES on, but considering I have a whole host of issues, this is just another area that could get out of control if I don’t learn to maintain balance.
- I excessively exercise and/or lift weights in an effort to alter my perceived flaw. YES. Duh! lol Oh boy. I don’t even need to explain my thoughts on this one. Again, whether this is healthy or not comes down to balance in all areas.
- I avoid certain places and/or activities (i.e., parties, dating, swimming, restaurants, theatres, etc.) because I don’t want others to see my perceived flaw. I answered NO on this one. However, I will try my darnedest to stay home if I feel ugly, and I most definitely won’t put on a bathing suit if I feel fat – but I typically don’t let it keep me from going places and having fun.
- I generally avoid having my picture taken. NO. I’m learning to be OK with ugly selfies. I have to take pics for brands. I used to take a million pictures to get just one OK one, but this is actually an area I’ve improved on. I’m more OK with less than perfect photos. #workinprogress
- I have undergone cosmetic procedures to correct my perceived flaw (i.e., plastic surgery, hair replacement, skin bleaching, etc.). Let’s just say I used to work for a plastic surgeon’s office when I was in my twenties and I had every skin peel there was to improve my skin, I’ve had various un-invasive treatments to improve skin texture and color, and used bleaching creams to improve acne scars – and STILL use 3 different medicated treatments from Vein Therapies (Dr. Beckett’s office) to help my skin. It definitely did give me more confidence and improved my skin greatly. I also have permanent make-up because I couldn’t stand the way I looked without eyeliner. My face just disappeared. I have to admit, that was WAY worth it and definitely helped me feel better about myself since I loved the water and sport, etc. Obsessive? I don’t think so, but the answer still is YES.
- I am dissatisfied with the outcome of these cosmetic procedures. Well, I had realistic expectations of each procedure so I can’t say I was dissatisfied. Do I wish my skin was even smoother and clearer? Yes, but I answered NO on this one because my skin has definitely improved.
- I am planning or hoping to have cosmetic procedures to alter my perceived flaw in the future. I would LOVE to have laser on my face and go on acutane. I always thought I’d grow out of acne, but it never happened. I have pores so large you can swim in them and acne scars that have destroyed the texture of my skin – and now I have wrinkles too! ha! It’s always been a dream of mine to get laser to improve my skin. It’s a pretty big procedure (lot of down time and painful from what I understand) but I’ve seen how baby smooth it is after it’s done. Someday! I answered YES, because if I had the time and money, I’d do it in a heartbeat – complete with a blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery to fix my old wrinkly eyes).
- I am often anxious or depressed thinking about my perceived flaw. YES. Sadly, I worry about my weight way too much. I get really depressed when I gain even 5lbs. It’s not right, I don’t condone that, but I’m just being honest. I know it’s not healthy and it’s unnecessary.
- I am often late for activities due to performing behaviors related to my perceived flaw. I am much quicker to get ready now, but I have a hard time “stopping” the perfecting process. I’m always running late because I change my clothes 5 more times in search for something that looks better. Or I curl a few more chunks of hair, as if that will make all the difference. I fix, fix, fix and re-fix, when I should just say goodbye to the mirror and be OK with everything the way it is – even if it’s less than desirable to me. Lately, I’ve been working on this. Even though I have a bad attitude about it, I will say “forget it. that’s just as good as it gets” and will flip the light off and walk away. It’s a step. The next step is smiling and being OK with it. So, YES.
- I often believe others notice my perceived flaw and/or are thinking negative thoughts about my perceived flaw. This is a big one for me. YES. I totally think people look at me and think “boy, she’s gotten fat”. Sadly, people have said stupid stuff like “you don’t look like your pictures now do you?” I never forget my mailman pointed to a poster of me and said “you don’t have those abs now do you?” It crushed me. I was like “No, it’s freakin Christmas and I’m not training for anything. I’m trying to enjoy my life, but thanks for reminding me of how fit I was a few months ago. So, yes, I do fear people whisper about me if they feel like I’m not as thin or muscular as I can be. I wonder if my enemies enjoy seeing me a little fuller or if people judge me. I don’t know why I even care, but maybe it’s just being a fitness leader. I want to practice what I preach and I desire to be a good example. I don’t like letting people down. Another unnecessary pressure I put on myself. I know. Another big one to work on.
- I am significantly distressed about my perceived flaw. YES. I rarely am free from this, unless I’m really lean and have been dieting hard for something. I stress out way too much about this. I can even realize that there are obese people who would love to be my weight, even at my heaviest. However, it still doesn’t change the way I feel in my own skin.
- I often believe others are discussing or commenting on my perceived flaw. This goes with the earlier question about feeling like others think negatively about your perceived flaw. YES, sadly, I think there are catty women who love to see you at your worst. I think people enjoy putting others down in order to be lifted up. Shute, there are some people who look down on us BECAUSE we workout and because I have muscle (because they perceive that to be unattractive, un-womanly, self-centered or showy). I always think people see my flaws more than my strengths, but I don’t feel that way about the people I truly love and who truly love me.
- My concerns about my perceived flaw are interfering with my relationships and/or with my academic or professional functioning. NO. I think they probably take up too much time, thought and emotion, but no, I don’t let them interfere with my life for the most part.
So there you have it – an up close and personal peak at my warped brain! Now on to making a change!
Disorder or Dis-Order?
Medical Definition: a derangement or abnormality of function; a morbid physical or mental state.
While I’m sure many psychiatrists would disagree with this statement, I still will say it. I will not label myself as having BDD just because I scored poorly on this test. (Granted, if you have severe depression or suicidal thoughts related to these symptoms, I do recommend seeing a professional please!) But, in my case, I will address each concern and work on it.
I will not use it as a crutch or an excuse to continue BDD behavior. This test simply made me aware of areas I need to work on. Whether you or I are clinical or not, it doesn’t matter to me. I can improve and so can you! In many ways, I have improved (like with my skin). I might be worse temporarily with my body after experiencing competition weight, but I’m not going to settle for this emotional state – and, if you struggle with this too, you should not either.
I look at it this way. I can either say this is a disorder, or I can realize these symptoms are a result of dis-order meaning things (life) out of order (not in premium working condition). As I attempt to put my life in the right order – putting God first, Steve/family next, others next, etc. my focus will slowly shift off myself and onto others and more important things than the way I look.
The OCD Center of Los Angles says “From a mindfulness perspective, much of our psychological distress is the result of trying to control and eliminate the discomfort of unwanted thoughts, feelings, sensations, and urges. In other words, our discomfort is not the problem – our attempt to control and eliminate our discomfort is the problem. For an individual with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, the ultimate goal of mindfulness is to develop the ability to more willingly experience their uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, sensations, and urges, without responding with compulsions, avoidance behaviors, reassurance seeking, and/or mental rituals.”
So, if I want to improve in this area, I need to purposefully allow myself to experience the “perceived flaw” without always frantically responding to it. This means, I should start running without makeup more so I get used to being out in public with no make-up. No one in my neighborhood cares or notices anyway! I used to think I just did this to make myself feel better (and I do believe that is the main reason), but maybe I am fueling the fire and creating a habit that is hard for me to break. So, as a result of this test, I plan on “exercising” this area of my life.
Another thing I have already started “practicing’ is wearing loose clothing. Why not be more comfortable right? I always think of loose clothing as sloppy and making me look fat, but it is more comfortable, and it takes my eyes and mind (as well as others’) off my body. This is especially important to me when I’m close to a competition. Many people get skimpier and skimpier the leaner they are (to show off their progress or just because they are more comfortable exposing skin). I was convicted earlier this year, I should do the opposite. It’s one thing to wear fitting clothes to the gym, but when I’m out and about (at church, shopping, etc), I should really dress more conservatively and cover up more. It’s less pressure on me, and is better for me to take the focus off my body and more on other important things.
Practice Makes Better
You might have heard the saying, “the first step to recovery is admitting there’s a problem”? Well, I do believe the first step is admitting you have things to work on. Now it’s up to me to WORK on them. I will not suddenly be OK with my body or skin, but I absolutely can practice changing my mindset. I can take less time getting ready. I can refuse to change clothes 10 times on fat days, and just shoot for 1 or 2 times. I can wear less make-up when it doesn’t matter and I can walk the beach in a bikini on my fat days and remind myself that no one cares if I am 5lbs heavier than I want to be. I can choose to smile and not complain about how I feel. That is a choice, not a reaction. I have full control. i just have to practice more control.
The fact of the matter is that I know I am being unrealistic, so I can let a lot of this go – BUT, it will be a daily dying to self (not letting my body rule me, Romans 8:13) and practicing a healthier ORDER to my life. How does God see me? Righteous and redeemed! (1 Corinthians 1:30)
“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
Learning a Healthy Balance:
#1 Do not worry – “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” Matthew 6:25 How often do we worry about things that have nothing to do with eternity or to do with anything that TRULY matters. It’s a waste of time and energy. We must practice NOT worrying.
#2 Focus on what is most important – I need to realize being fit has some value, but it falls below godliness. I should spend way more time on working on my heart, than my physique.
“For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8
#3 Actively work to re-prioritize your life. The world can knock our priorities out of order. Work may require us to work later, and miss time with family. Stress may force our eyes of other important things. We don’t set priorities and call it a day. We set them, and then spend the rest of our lives re-prioritizing them – putting the important things back in the right order and pushing other stuff out of the way. A life without purposefully reordering our life, is a life completely out of order. This is how the world conforms us if we let it. It is only by being proactive with our thoughts, relationships and priorities will we be transformed by the renewal of our mind like this scripture says.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2
We can’t let our thoughts go wild. We have control over our mind or God would never tell you to “set your mind on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2) because He’d never tell us to do something we couldn’t do. God is telling us that we can change our mind, and set it to more important things than worrying about how we look or feel. Again, practice makes better.
I hope this super long blog helped, or encouraged you. If nothing else, if you struggle with these things, you now know you aren’t alone. We all do to some degree – just some of us need to work on them more than others!
There is nothing like totally pigging out Thanksgiving weekend and then not being able to burn it off. Yes, that happened to me this week. I fell flat on my butt, on a concrete breezeway, Saturday night after Marley (my Great Dane) knocked me off my feet. I didn’t realize it, but I jarred my spine and hips so hard that I got out of alignment and, by midday Sunday, I could barely walk.
I had never experienced such crippling pain. I kept saying “this is ridiculous” every time it took me 5 minutes just to stand up – much less wait on me to walk across the house. I felt like Tim Conway on the Carol Burnett show. I went from 40 to 80 years old overnight! (for those of you young’ns who don’t know that character, here’s a skit to watch for giggles).
Step One – A Step in the Right Direction
OK, so back to fitness! So, what’s a girl do who can’t stand, much less walk? I’ll tell you what she does. She listens to her wise husband, who says go to the doctor. So, I verrrrry reluctantly text my friend who is a chiropractor (Jennifer Stepanek at Total Health in Vero Beach) and told her what happened, and she told me to come in.
Before I go further, I need to tell you how I feel about my bones being popped. I am a scared little girl! Maybe it’s my control-freak self that struggles with letting someone manipulate my body – or maybe it’s just that the only time I ever go to the doctor is when I’m in pain (so you are naturally scared of more pain). BUT, what I do know is that Jennifer is gentle and conservative, so I sucked it up and went in.
As I hobbled in the door, she giggled with me (knowing that was SO not me to hobble so slowly and carefully), and she took me straight back to check me out. My hips were twisted and she could tell my fall had jarred me good. She did a few things to relax my back muscles and made 2 simple adjustments (on each side) to line me back up! Then she followed up with some soft tissue work. She encouraged me and said she sees that all the time and felt sure I’d get better and she was right.
I was probably 50% better by the end of the day, and I get a little better each day. But here was my thought: what if i didn’t get better? What if it prolonged? What can I do in this state? The truth is, even though I am definitely limited, I can do plenty.
SET-backs Don’t Have To Be STEPS Back
Many people suffer injuries, and it can be very depressing for people who are trying to work on their fitness and weight. I had high hopes of hitting 2-a-day cardios, taking kickboxing, weight training and working on my FitBit challenge for Shape Magazine – and going from 10,000 steps a day to less than 3,000 steps a day quickly got me discouraged. I was hurting my East Coast Team, and I wasn’t able to reel my body back in as fast as I planned. Then I realized, I needed encourage others who face the same roadblocks. Set backs don’t have to be steps back. I can still move toward my goal – it will be just a little slower. Here’s what needs to happen.
Look at the Facts
While exercise definitely helps burn calories, speeding up weight loss – it’s not required for success. You can still lose weight with just diet alone. Of matter of fact, diet is probably 80% of it. Here’s the facts. If I run 3 miles a day, that’s equal to about 300 calories burned. I can stay in the same caloric deficit by cutting 50 calories off every meal and snack.
Focus On Your Diet
For some backwards reason, we tend to eat even worse when we can’t workout. It’s a ridiculous self-sabotage mechanism most people do that makes things even worse. We dive into self-pity, want to curl up on the couch and be lazy, eat crappy food, and then complain about how fat we feel. How retarded is that?! If you want to feel good, EAT GOOD! Even though I’ve had some snacks at night, I basically have just been eating homemade soup since I got home from vacation. For 4 days straight, I have eaten soup every meal except one (when I had the Atkins pizza).
As I limit my food intake, my stomach is starting to get smaller and I’m feeling a little better every day. You have to remember, when you eat big portions (like on Thanksgiving), you have a lot more food in your gut than normal (making you feel stuffed, because you literally are!). This takes a few days to get through your system before you start thinning back out.
Drink a Lot of Water
Another issue we have when we come out of an eating frenzy is we tend to hold more water. Whether it’s from eating out and eating more processed foods, or it’s from being very sedentary and not allowing your body to opportunity to move water around – we feel even more fat and bloated simply because we are holding more water. This would be a great time to pound the water and flush your system.
Take Care of Your Body
Healing requires being proactive with your injury. See a doctor and make sure your own diagnosis is correct. Seek appropriate therapy, whether it’s with a professional or just taking action at home. Don’t just sit there and expect it to get better on it’s own. Oftentimes, a bulk of the pain is from inflammation. If you control inflammation, you control pain and increase mobility.
In addition, sitting still can actually make the problem worse. Your body stiffens up and can make it even harder to bounce back. Ice the affected area, take anti-inflammatories and keep moving, while still avoiding specific movements that cause pain. Ice after activity and get plenty of rest too.
Lastly, take baby steps. Don’t jump back into your fitness routine, full steam ahead. Test the waters first with light activity and light weights first. But nine times out of ten, doing nothing actually can make things worse, not better. CLICK HERE to learn how to make your own gel ice packs.
Do What You Can
This is a tricky one. We rarely want to do what we can. We want to do what we WANT to do, not what we CAN do. I normally run. I don’t want to walk. I want to run, but I can’t run right now so, today, I will walk – whether I want to or not. Since I’ve been down for a few days, I’m more lazy feeling than I normally am (which is already pretty lazy). So I have to fight the lazies even more.
Also, my pride gets me and I find it very hard to tame my workouts down when I’m hurt. As a result, sometimes I don’t even want to do anything at all. However, I know if I do SOMETHING, it’s better than NOTHING – and I’ll feel SO much better when I’m done. Even if I don’t burn a ton of calories, it will strengthen me mentally.
The fact of the matter is, it actually hurts more to sit and get up from sitting more than it hurts to walk now. Of course, at first I hardly could walk, but now I am able to walk Ok and just have trouble putting on my pants (lifting my legs), getting up off a chair or couch and a few other movements. While there is discomfort standing, it’s not painful – and staying moving will actually help me loosen back up even more.
So, while I probably won’t be lifting weights, or back to my normal routine, I do plan to start increasing my activity. I plan on going back to kickboxing soon if walking goes well. I just won’t be able to do burpees, jumping and some other moves, but I can tame the workout down to fit what I CAN do. I hate to be “that girl” – the crippled pathetic one in class, but maybe I have that all wrong. I can turn that into being “that girl!” – the one who is not letting a bad back get her down! Yeah, I want to be THAT girl! Don’t you?
The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year. Not only do we still have our regular list of things to do, but now we also have to fit in Christmas shopping, football games, holiday parties and special events too. As we all run around like a chicken with its head cut off, it’s easy to neglect our bodies.
This is the time of year when our workouts and diet suffers. We don’t make time to eat, and when we do finally eat, it’s not as healthy as it should be – plus we overeat because we waited until we were completely starving to finally stop for food.
You can prevent a LOT of damage by doing this one simple thing: Bring a bar everywhere you go. Seriously, before you leave the house, you should grab your phone, grab your wallet, grab your keys and grab a bar – like the Atkins Blueberry Greek Yogurt Bar.
When we get too hungry, we get stupid – plain and simple.
If you think about all the times you’ve given in to fast food or overeaten at dinner, it’s typically because you allowed yourself to get too hungry. When we get too hungry we get stupid – plain and simple.
We think of stupid ways to get food. We rationalize our poor decisions and we make exceptions to our normal dietary rules. This can all be prevented with one simple healthy snack bar.
Below are my list of top 10 reasons you should have a bar handy – and why!
Top 10 Times to Have a Bar Handy
- WORKING – If you are like me, you can work long hours without rest and, suddenly, you are starving to death. Midday is the perfect time to have a bar. It will give you the boost you need to perform well, and you won’t be as hungry by suppertime.
- STUDYING – If you are a student, you should always have a bar in your backpack. If young students snack on a bar on their bus ride, or walking route, home, they will be less likely to invade the pantry as soon as they walk in the door. Many students also have end of the year exams in December, so it’s good to have extra brain food on hand to help them stay alert and sharp.
- CHEERING – Tis the season for football cheering, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la! Bring a bar with you to all the games. It not only will save you from buying a high-price hot dog, but it will save you the calories too!
- SHOPPING – Graze on a bar while shopping. This will help you resist the food court, and will keep your energy level up. Always have a bar with you when you go to the grocery store too. Sometimes you will find you are hungrier than you thought once you get there – then you’ll throw everything but the kitchen sink in your grocery cart because you are thinking with your stomach and not your brain! lol
- TRAVELING – Pack bars with you on road trips. Having a bar in the car, ready for your next hunger pain, can reduce unnecessary snack stops as well as curb appetite until you find the next restaurant.
- PARTYING – Eat a bar before going to a Holiday Party. You’ll be less likely to overeat all the high-calorie holiday fair. A bar is also great to have for those holiday dinners with the office. It can take a long time to serve a large number of people, so it’s good to have a bar on hand in case it takes two hours to just get your salad.
- SIPPING – Bring a bar to your favorite coffee house. Atkins bars taste like a real treat, so enjoy it with a cup of joe instead of sharing your coffee with a high-fat high-carb scone or muffin.
- EXERCISING – Pack a bar in your gym bag. You should always have a bar in your gym bag in case your blood sugar drops or you lack energy for your workout.
- WATCHING – This is the season for long concerts, plays, recitals and Christmas specials. Bring a bar with you to snack on during intermission so don’t want to eat a horse when the even is over.
- DRIVING – The holidays will have you running all over creation – going on errands, playing taxi for your kids and packing in as many honey-dos as possible. This is why I always have a bar in my car. It’s my emergency bar stash. My car is never without a bar, so I’m never stuck in the car hungry.
Bars, Bars, Bars
Here is a list of Atkin’s Advantage Bars. These bars are great as a meal replacement, or a really filling snack. Bars are available at CVS, Publix, WinnDixie, WalMart, Target, Sam’s and many other common grocery stores. With a total of 24 varieties of delicious snack and meal bars, Atkins has something for everyone and their snacking preference. Bring along an Atkins Advantage bar such as the Blueberry Greek Yogurt bar or the Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel bar. They’re portable and can be eaten anytime you’re on the go or you need a satisfying snack or light meal. Each bar is packed with protein and fiber to keep you satisfied when you’re too busy to eat a full meal.
Atkins Blueberry Greek Yogurt Bar
Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel
Strawberry Almond Bar
Cinnamon Bun Bar
Chocolate Chip Granola Bar
Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar
Cookies & Cream Bar
Mud Slide Bar
Peanut Butter Granola Bar
Peanut Fudge Granola Bar
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bar
This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Atkins.
“Do you skip your bath because it takes time away from your family over the holidays? Of course not! There are some priorities that should always stay in place no matter what – and fitness is one of them.”
We like to make excuses around this time of year. “I’m too busy”. “I don’t know how to count Thanksgiving meal calories.” “The gym is closed.” “I’m tired.” “We’ll be out of town.” “I need to spend time with family.” “I can’t control myself around all that food”. “I deserve a break”… The list goes on.
Let me tell you, it is ridiculous that we even think any of those excuses will get you out of a workout free and clear. For every excuse someone has, someone out there is working out despite having the same excuses. In addition, there are reasons why even a good excuse is a bad reason to skip your workout.
8 Holiday Excuses Busters:
1. “I’m too busy” – You have time to watch TV, get on facebook, read my blog, sleep late, stay up late, etc. “Too busy” often means, not having as much free time to live life how you prefer. Busy means you need to schedule your day better. It means you can’t just play it by ear and hope you have enough time left over to do extra stuff. When you are busy, it means you need to do what matters most first and get it out of the way. When you don’t HAVE time, you have to MAKE time.
2. “I don’t know how to count Thanksgiving meal calories.” – You should at least try. Use your noggin. Guess the ingredients of the meal. Using the LoseIt app, look up similar dishes served at restaurants, etc., but don’t just not even try. Make it fun. See if people can guess and look it up, like a trivia game. You’ll learn a lot along the way, make better choices and entertain your family with interesting facts.
3. “The gym is closed.” Most gyms are closed on Thanksgiving Day – Big Whoop! You don’t need a gym to sweat. Try one of our Designer Whey workouts online. Any of the training plans from Design Your Body (weight loss and body sculpting program), Basic Training (beginner program), Savage Training (advanced workout), or any of the single workout regimens, are perfect for working out at home or in a hotel. And, of course there is always the road! Take a walk, go for a run. Just commit to 15-30 minutes. You’ll feel a MILLION times better if you do SOMEthing rather than nothing. Here’s a quick 5 minute workout from DesignerWhey you can do anywhere. Repeat 3-5 times.
4. “I’m SO tired.” – Even MORE of a reason to workout. Exercise is exhilarating. It revs the metabolism and boosts energy. And, if you have been light on sleep, it helps you sleep better. So scratch that excuse off your list.
5. “We’ll be out of town.” – People train on the road all the time. The first step is planning. Pack your gym clothes, Reeboks & yurbuds. With apps like RunKeeper, you no longer need to have to map out a course ahead of time. You can step out of your grandma’s driveway and start running, and the RunKeeper will tell you how far you have gone so you know exactly how long to run. Also, most hotels have gyms, and if they don’t, you can use one of the above programs to guide you through a workout in your hotel room. No weights? Improvise! 1 gallon of water is 8.33lbs. Use a set of jugs for dumbbells to do some of the exercises shown below in this video. Bodyweight exercises are awesome and equally effective – especially when done fast with little rest.
6. “I need to spend time with family” – I totally get it. Family should ALWAYS be first. But I think this picture is a pretty typical description of what most “quality family time” looks like. We go to grandma’s and everyone gathers in the kitchen to eat or the living room to sit in front of the TV. You could set the active pace. You could make an impact on your family be setting an example. Play catch outside, go for a walk, play Wii with the kids. Even if you have to leave and go for a run, I think they’ll forgive you for taking care of your health. Do you skip your bath because it takes time away from your family? No! Of course not! There are some priorities that should always stay in place no matter what. Standard grooming habits, your physical health, and your spiritual health need to remain constant. If you do them first and get them out of the way, you will find you have AMPLE time with your family and you’ll have more energy and a better attitude too!
7. I can’t control myself” – Really? You CAN’T control yourself, or you WON’T? Saying you can’t control yourself before you even face the Thanksgiving table is telling yourself in advance that you will fail. That is ridiculous. It’s this simple. You either WANT to get fit and be thin, or you WANT to taste food more. You need to gain control of your body and not let your tongue boss you around. Saying no is empowering. You absolutely can control yourself around food. One, don’t go to the dinner table hungry. Eat something before you surround yourself with tempting food. Two, don’t even negotiate it. Don’t waste time contemplating whether you should have something or not. Keep your rules black and white, no grey. If it’s going to interfere with your goal, skip it. If you aren’t willing to burn it off, skip it. You have more control than you think.
8. “I deserve a break” – If you are happy with where your weight is, that is fine. Take a break and enjoy the family – especially if you are consistent in your workouts and rarely take a day off. BUT, if you are unhappy with your weight, if you are sporadic with your workouts, or find it hard to stick with a program, then you don’t need a break. A break can actually mess you up in a bad way. Not only do you consume a LOT more calories during this time of year, you won’t be burning as many calories by taking a break – a double whammy! AND, getting out of a routine can set you up for a downward spiral of laziness and lack of motivation. When you workout, you become more protective over what you eat, so you’re likely to make better decisions even if you still cheat. Also, working out mentally keeps you “in the game”. Don’t lose momentum by giving in to taking a day off just because a friend can afford to. You have to do what YOU need to do to stick with your program and keep moving toward your goal. Even if it’s strictly for damage control, don’t let a pity-party convince you to be lazy.
If you skip your workout, will it kill ya? NO! But will it affect you? YES. Sometimes just mentally. In reality, the extra calories with the lack of calories burned can set you back a whole week. Ironically, just 30 minutes is enough to make a big difference. If you can’t do your normal routine during the holidays, do SOMEthing. Keep your eye on the prize! You’ll feel great and be THANKFUL you did!
Shape Magazine has challenged me, as one of the 10 East Coast against 10 West Coast bloggers, to put our new Fitbit Charge to the test. Each week we compete to see which Coast can take the most steps or log the longest distance, leading to one Coast to be declared the most “Active Coast”.
1st Challenge: Take a Hike!
Each week we will get a challenge to complete (follow #MotivationMondays and #FindYourFit to follow the challenge). This week’s challenge was “Take a Hike“. I don’t know about you and where you live, but there isn’t a lot of “hiking” here. There are no mountains, hills or parks to go “hiking” around – at least, not how I think of hiking. While there IS one trail called Jungle Trail, one town over, hiking isn’t something you think of when you think of Vero Beach.
On top of it, Monday for us was a crazy travel work-day for us Pfiesters. We were up at 5am, on the road by 7am to Boca Raton where we shoot our LiveExercise workout shows, then we had to fly back to train clients, teach kickboxing and teach BCx Shred Camp at our gym, Max Fitness Club. But, I still planned on getting my hike on despite my insane day! Did I mention I was also temporarily blind?
I’m going through a special contact fitting (created for hard-to-fit blink folks like me). This fitting requires me to wear a special contact lens (and I still have to wear glasses over them to see! That’s how blind I am! haha). Anyway, I have to wear these contacts for a few days to help the doctor (Dr. Joyce Desrosiers of the Eye Clinic of Vero) measure my eye. So, not only did I not have an ideal path, I can’t even really see a path at all. Ha! So, instead of sitting on the couch in the office waiting for Steve’s show to end, staring into space, I was on a mission to prove to everyone you can have all the excuses in the world and still choose not to use one of them. So, in between shows, I decided to hike my semi-blind self through Boca’s industrial area.
To my surprise, I actually had a lot of fun exploring through parking lots, loading docs, sidewalks, breezeways and side streets – and even found a pretty lake-veiw spot to sit and relax a bit.
Even when your day is busy, even when your circumstances are not ideal, you can still #FindYourFit!
Here are a few pics from my city hike! lol
4 Ways to Find Your Fit
1. Don’t be afraid to walk in circles. Before I decided to walk through the entire industrial plaza on the street where our studio was, I first decided I’d just walk around the building. Even if I had to do 20 laps, I would still get some steps in, burn some calories and find my fit. I think many people are looking for the ideal path, not just any path. To #FindYourFit, you have to improvise.
2. 10 minutes is ok. When it comes to exercising the heart and lunges, exercising for only 10 minutes at a time is effective. Don’t feel like you have to have a whole hour to workout. While your co-worker takes their 10 minute smoke break, take a 10 minute walk break! You’ll come back more refreshed and alert than your nicotine-filled friend.
3. Make the most of the time you have. If you are limited on time, incorporate HIIT (High Intensity Hit Training) into your walk. You can set your Fitbit Charge to cue you every minute (or desired time). Rotate between a run and a walk, or a sprint and a jog, to burn more calories and take your cardiovascular training up a notch.
4. Walk a mile without leaving. There are other ways to take steps without even leaving your house or office. Butt-kicks (jogging in place), jump rope, high marches and jumping jacks can help you get your steps in even if you can’t step out. Here’s an example of a workout you can do with nothing but your bodyweight and a jumprope to get increase your steps and #findyourfit!
Warm up: Watch Video
25 Butt-Kix (jog in place, heels hit your butt)
25 2-Step Heismans
Jump Rope (2 minutes)
THE PUSH: Watch Video
(3 rounds for time)
10 High Knees (one big jump in the air lifting both knees as high as you can)
1-Minute Jump rope
SSS (SkaterSquatShuffle): Watch Video
3 sets for time
20 Skaters (lunge from side to side, touching opposite hand to the lunging foot)
20 Squat Front-Kix (squat with alternating kicks)
20 Shuffle (quick switch)
20 Butt Kix
Record your time at the end of the third round!
WIN A FITBIT CHARGE
Check out all the blogger’s pages (you can click on each blogger’s pic to see their blog) to see how they’re tackling the challenges and get your hands on your own new Fitbit Charge by entering our weekly sweepstakes below. Come back weekly to see which Coast is in the lead and to enter to win 1 of 4 new Fitbit Charges we’re handing out!
This post is sponsored by the Shape/Men’s Fitness FitBit Charge Challenge.
There are many reasons people are motivated to get fit. Some people are motivated to start working out because they want to look better. Other people are motivated to exercise in order to feel better. No matter what motivates you to start a program, the key to success not just figuring out how to GET motivated but how to STAY motivated.
In this economy, many people would say they couldn’t afford to get fit. However, it is likely they can afford more than they think. Most people simply spend too much money on things that make them fat, instead of things to get them fit.
As a result, you can easily nickel and dime yourself right out of a healthy lifestyle. For instance, many people don not think twice about going through a drive-through at lunch or buying a five-dollar latte for a caffeine boost. One modest dinner date would cover a gym membership for the month, offering endless fitness opportunities. Sadly, people keep putting their money where there mouth is – literally.
1 drink alcoholic drink per night can average $90.00 a month.
In my recent article on Answers.com, I show how some of our food and drink choices add up if you aren’t careful – and it’s AMAZING how even a cup of coffee a day can add up! CLICK HERE to read the whole article, 7 Ways to Afford a Healthy Lifestyle and see other ways to cut back and make more room for fit choices.
What have you given up to help you afford to get healthy and fit?
Anyone who has worked out for any length of time realizes there are different seasons in the gym. Definitely not referring to Summer or Winter. The seasons I am talking about are “the lazy season”, “the lean up season”, “the bulk up season”, or even “the I’m on fire to workout season”.
If you are like me, one week you want to be bigger, then a week later you want to be more shredded. Then, maybe you get bored, then you just don’t care – only to see something that inspires you or motivates you to get back and “train like a freak”. For me, this is usually a picture of my fat face or brand new belly!
Whatever season you’re in, we all aspire to see or experience that “one thing” that organically creates a deep burning desire to be sold to get in shape once more. (Side note: the true desire to get fit has to be because you want the change for you, not to train for anyone else!)
“The Lazy Season”
Recently Bonnie, my wife, and I competed in a pretty large bodybuilding and physique event in Daytona Florida. We both were completely motivated to train and eat like a “Pharisee” for over 4 months. Our motivation never wavered. We were relentless in our pursuit of the goal laid before us. During the training we vowed to have tighter parameters of our weight and diet, making sure to maintain all of this hard work and higher level of fitness. But here I am, 2 Disney trips, 3 nights on the town, 1 week of company at our house, and 6 weeks later, disappointed and rather stale with my eating and training. We had the best intentions, we even set limits on our diet and I have definitely been training. So what happened?
Good intentions and even setting strict parameters are futile if left unchecked. Laziness quickly sets in. Arbitrary goals with no finish line are a sure way to fail. Our goals need to have a finite beginning and end that depicts some entity of time, and reward. Give your self a start line and a definite finish line that you CAN NOT continue to move every time you mess up. If you keep restarting your diet and training every Monday, it is probably because your finish line is as “wishy washy” as your efforts to get in shape.
“The Get Back on Track Season”
Even after establishing some goals, how do we get back (and stay motivated) to “train like a freak”?
1. New routine and exercises to facilitate the goals you established (bigger, stronger, faster). Sign up for another show, race, competition or event.
2. Get some food and supplements that will enhance training. New recipes and doing research on vitamins will help motivate you.
3. Grab some new music and make a sick playlist specific for each workout (cardio, arms, legs, ect…)
4. New gear… My favorite motivator. A new outfit from TLF Apparel, new shoes, gloves or straps, a new med ball, speed rope, kettle bell, did I mention a new outfit?
So whats the deal? Establishing the goals in a finite time is by far the most important, but making an investment into that goal is paramount. If every Monday you are starting over you need to feel a loss of your investment. It needs to cost you something when you mess up or quit. In order to look freaky good, you have to “train like a freak”.
Check out this gear I got from TLF (Train Like a Freak) apparel that got me back on track to train like a freak. Thanks TLF, you guys motivate me!!!
CONNECT WITH TLF:
TLF Apparel – for men and women
I can wear this hoodie to the gym or I can throw it on with some jeans and go to a movie. It’s really that versatile – and yet it’s cozy as my most comfy pajamas, so I tend to throw it on when lounging around the house too. It’s definitely one of my favs. As much use as I get out of this, it’s worth the money. Price tag: $54.00. Available in grey or black.
High-quality Infi-Dry™ fabric keeps you cool & dry
Lightweight soft comfortable fabric Flat seamed for chafe resistance
Mesh back shoulder and hood panels for added style
Reflective Infinity logo on the upper front left chest
Reflective Infinity “punched out” logo on the back right shoulder
TLF engraved drawstring caps
Coupon Code to get 20% OFF
CLICK HERE TO ORDER
TLF’s™ Infinity Longevity Shorts is made with Infi-Dry™ technology, these lightweight, moisture-wicking shorts provide you with comfort that will last throughout your entire workout or any sports activity. Price Tag: $44. Available in grey or black.
High-quality Infi-Dry™ fabric keeps you cool & dry, wicking away the sweat and moisture
Custom “Property of TLF Crest” artwork on front of left leg
TLF woven skull patch on center back
Convenient side pockets to store items safely during workout
Drawstring waistband for a custom fit
TLF engraved drawstring caps
Coupon Code to get 20% OFF
CLICK HERE TO ORDER
I will show off my next outfit. You can get a sneak peak of it, before my review goes out in this recent video (where I talk about sculpting tips).
As a blogger, I get an opportunity to try all kinds of fun fitness gear, accessories, devices and products. Every year I use my findings and share gift ideas for the fitness enthusiast (from my favorite products I’ve either found on my own or done a product review for). As I continue to discover new products, I will be adding to THIS page all through November and December. So, bookmark this page because it will be growing leading up to Christmas Day.
Look for this Pfit Pfinds logo in blogs for more Christmas Gift Ideas.
Enough is Enough
It’s so easy to do. We have one cheat meal, then another, and another. Or maybe it’s a vacation, a birthday or a holiday that spiraled out of control. Whatever the excuse, it’s easy to get caught in an eating cycle that throws you off course. Before you know it, you put on a pair of jeans that confirm your fears. You’ve gained weight.
It happens to the best of us. The only way to reverse the damage is you have to push the stop button. You have to call it quits. It’s rarely enough to just cut back or slow down. There must be a time you just start saying NO! But, the best thing to do is to prevent the weight gain before it gets too out of hand to begin with.
What Are Your Pants Trying to Tell You?
Some people know when to stop when they hit a number on a scale, or their pants are too tight. However, other people set themselves up for failure because they have no real way measurement to follow. Weight can sneak up on you if you wear stretchy pants. And no, I’m not necessarily talking about Nacho Libre stretchy pants (tights), but pants that have stretch in them. Spandex and clothing with stretch in them can be misleading. They mask weight gain, where jeans with no stretch are less forgiving. Sadly, you may walk around with 5-10 extra pounds on you, and still fit in your clothes.
People who are in the fitness industry fall in this trap a lot because workout attire is designed to stretch and feel good. If you wear nothing but workout clothes every day, you may not notice your weight gain as soon as if you were wearing fitted slacks every day. Since I fall into that category, I weigh myself every day to keep myself in check. You may prefer to take measurements. Whatever measurement you choose, set some guidelines for yourself to help you catch weight gain before it gets out of hand.
5 Steps to Shedding the Fat
1. Stop all cheat meals. Cutting back or working out more rarely works. There must be a line in the sand where things drastically change (temporarily) in order to break the cycle. Go back to what got you fit and trim to begin with. If that was counting calories, then start counting calories again until you lose the added pounds you gained. If it was doing cardio more, then do cardio more. However, it’s almost impossible to just try to eat cleaner or make subtle changes and expect big results. Subtle random changes delivers subtle random results.
2. Bump up your cardio. Speed up the weight loss process by burning more calories and doing more cardio than you normally do. Throw in a couple of two-a-day cardios if you really want faster results. While you still want to lift weights, burning calories should be your main focus during this phase. So, if you only have 30 minutes to workout, choose a workout that burns the most calories, like a HIIT workout over a traditional weight lifting routine.
3. Don’t buy any new clothes. When we feel fat, we are tempted to go buy some clothes that look and feel better on our heavier frame. In a way, it enables us to maintain that weight. Instead, wear the tighter clothes and let it be a reminder to stay on track. Treat yourself to a new outfit once you get back to the size you like best.
4. Plan vacations, parties and cheats AFTER you lose the weight. It’s nearly impossible to go on vacation and lose weight – or even maintain it! Don’t make losing weight any harder than it needs to be. Once you lose it, even a vacation won’t do too much damage if you are someone careful. If you must go out of town or you attend a party you can’t avoid, cut back on your calories before the event and do extra cardio to help prevent too much damage.
5. Set some rules for maintenance and stick to them. People don’t fail because they have an occasional cheat meal. They fail because on occasional cheat meal or snacks becomes a daily habit. You may set a rule to keep certain foods or drinks out of your house to avoid daily temptation while at home. You could make a rule that you can do one cheat meal a week, or allot 300 calories a night for snacks. Whatever you do, you need to have set guidelines in place to help prevent cheats and treats turning into unhealthy lifestyle.